One of my hopes and dreams as a blogger is that every single post I write will be some dynamite piece of content that makes it to the top of the search engines over time and lends itself to thousands of dollars of income for me.
MMD – Keep dreaming!
If you’d like a swift reality check, take what you believe to be your 5 best posts and see where they rank in Google search engine results for the keyword you were targeting. (You can do this in Long Tail Pro or simply browse through your Google Webmaster Tools account). You might get a pretty rude awakening!
That’s exactly what I did recently when I was trying to improve the readership of my blog.
One post I was particularly proud of was this one here. It was a post I published about a year and half ago that weighs the pros and cons of paying off your mortgage. Personally I always felt it was a pretty good one!
But the search engines would disagree with me. As of April 6, 2014 the post was only ranking #63 for its main keyword. That’s terrible! No one is going to click on the article while it’s on the seventh Google search engine results page (SERP). That means no readers and no money!
So the question is “how does one fix this”? Can we make our article “better” by simply addressing basic issues with SEO or do we need to do some content improvement to make the article more of a valuable piece?
How About We Just Improve the Basic SEO of the Page?
So if you’re a blogger, it’s probably been shoved down your throat that you NEED to make sure your post is SEO optimized. But is SEO alone enough to improve its rank?
Let’s do a quick review of the good and bad when it comes to SEO for the post I want to do a better job promoting:
- The URL includes my main keyword.
- The title includes my main keyword right at the beginning.
- The post was originally published on Dec 10, 2012. Time helps to build authority.
- It was already awarded a Google Pagerank (PR) = 2
- The post has a page authority (PA) = 29 and domain authority (DA) = 41
- SEM Rush says the post has 17 links from 10 root domains. 12 dofollow and 5 nofollow.
- The anchor text is mostly a partial match since the keyword is contained within the post title
- The post is 987 words long. That’s not too bad.
- The keyword appears 15 times on the blog page: 1 in title, 1 in the body, 1 in the header, 1 in the tags, 11 times in the trackbacks. That’s too much!
- There is one broken link to an old ad that is no longer valid.
- There are 0 external links to authority sites (sites with greater authority than mine).
- The post has 5 tags. That is probably too many.
- 2 of the images contain the same alt text = my keyword. Image alt text is important for SEO. Having both images have the same text is probably not a good idea.
- There was no use of heading tags, H2 or H4.
That’s not too bad. All of those items are pretty manageable to be fixed.
Here’s what I changed:
- Remove the broken ad link.
- Add in two authority links. 1 to a PR5 article and 1 to ABC News. Used partial match anchor text for both links.
- Added in a few more internal links within the content.
- Added in a nofollow link to the image credit.
- Changed the image titles and varied the alt text
- Changed headers to H2 and H4.
- Re-write the meta description to make it more appealing.
- Reduced the post tag count to just 2.
- Deleted trackbacks that contain my blog title and exact match keyword.
Good work! But what did all that do for the rank of my post in the Google search results? You can see for yourself:
- 4/9/2014 61
- 4/11/2014 57
- 4/12/2014 62
- 4/13/2014 58
- 4/14/2014 55
- 4/27/2014 69
- 4/28/2014 59
Ouch! Not a whole lot of anything!
Basically after a month of waiting my post just fluttered around the 50-70 mark and didn’t really improve much at all.
So what can we try next?
What Happens If We Focus on Content Improvement?
But is that really true? It worked really, really well when I improved the rank of my latest niche website all the way from No. +500 to No. 14 for its main keyword.
Would the same thing work for this old blog post? I decided to put this theory to the test.
Here’s what I did:
- I re-wrote the blog post. The new content was over 2,000 words long.
- I researched the results that were already ranking in the Top 10 and built off of their good points.
- Republished the post on April 28, 2014.
Although that doesn’t sound like a lot of change, it took a great deal of effort.
And what was my reward for this effort?
The rank of the post jumped up to No. 18! It may not be Page 1, but Page 2 is pretty darn close!
Taking It Even Further?
We could probably continue this case study even further by next building out more links to this post.
Although the backlink profile is already pretty strong, getting some new, fresh links from other bloggers, guest posts, or even internal links (like from this post here) and varying the anchor text will certainly help.
So what should you take away from this quick case study?
Yes, good SEO is always a strong foundation for a blog post. But it’s obviously not everything.
To dramatically improve your rank, you need to focus on content improvement. Don’t just stop at “good” content. Make it great content!
To answer the question of just what “great” content is, start by looking at what is already ranking well in the Google Top 10 search results. Study what each post is telling you, how long the posts are, what kind of links they have, etc.
If your target keyword has fairly low competition, it should be a no-brainer to rank within the Top 10 based on great content alone. But if not you’ll have to take a few extra steps with link building and promotion to go the extra mile.
Remember – your traffic is your key to money. If people can’t find your posts, then don’t expect to make any money. No one will see your content. No one will click on your ads. You owe it to yourself to take every possible advantage you can to make a difference for the better with your blog.
Readers – What have you found to improve the ranking of your posts? Have you found that content improvement really makes a different in getting organic visitors to your site?
Images courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net